- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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"If he can continue to do [what he did with Atlanta], you are talking about a potential Hall of Famer," general manager Brian Cashman said as the team formally introduced the catcher during a news conference at Yankee Stadium. "We are buying someone with that type of reputation and leadership. We have a lot of needs, and this certainly fills one of them."
In front of team owner Hal Steinbrenner and members of McCann's family, McCann spoke publicly for the first time about his five-year, $85 million contract with the Yankees that includes a $15 million vesting option and a no-trade clause.
"To say this is one of the best days of my life would be an understatement," a clean-shaven McCann said.
McCann wore No. 16 with the Braves, but that number is retired for Whitey Ford in New York. With the Yankees, McCann will wear No. 34. During the formal portion of the news conference, Cashman presented McCann's wife, Ashley, with flowers and two onesies with her husband's new number on them for the couple's young children.
As McCann was given his new number, manager Joe Girardi compared him to the best catchers in Yankees history, including Yogi Berra, Jorge Posada and Elston Howard.
"We think we have the next great Yankee catcher," Girardi said.
McCann hit .257 with 20 homers and 56 RBIs in 2013. It was his sixth straight 20-home run season, something only McCann, Berra, Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza have done with their primary position being catcher. The Yankees think that streak will be extended in the Bronx, believing McCann's left-handed swing is suited for the short porch in right field.
"This is a perfect fit," Cashman said.
When the Yankees conducted their organizational meetings the week of Oct. 21, they identified McCann, 29, as a main target. Although the Yankees had a goal of dropping their payroll beneath $189 million, they planned on spending in excess of $300 million, if not more, in free agency.
With the knowledge that Robinson Cano's free agency might drag on, the Yankees aggressively went after McCann, with Cashman saying the team was "ready to rock 'n' roll."
Steinbrenner added that if Cano gets a big-time offer, he hopes the Yankees get a final chance to counter.
"I would hope that would be the case," Steinbrenner said. "I would hope, given the history, given that he came up through this organization, that would be the case. These are good guys that he's got. I would think so and hope so."
Soon after the GM meetings in the middle of November, the Yankees invited McCann to New York to meet with Girardi, among others.
The visit took place in the middle of the week of Nov. 18. McCann toured the stadium and said that, besides the financial windfall, the Yankees also provided him an opportunity to be stay in the East; McCann grew up and still lives in Atlanta.
By that Saturday, the Yankees and McCann had an agreement for five years and $85 million plus an incentive-based option for $15 million that would make the potential outlay $100 million.
"Once I came up and visited, it was a no-brainer for me," said McCann, who also called former Braves teammate Mark Teixeira to find out more about being a Yankee.
Last offseason, with the $189 million mark for 2014 in the backs of their minds, the Yankees declined to pay up to keep Russell Martin, who ended up signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates for two years and $17 million.
8hTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com